Sunday, June 10, 2012

Contemporary Cinema

If you were absent last class, please complete the reflection assignment posted below!


As you read in those annoying packets, since 1975 and the rise of the blockbuster film, much of contemporary film is, of course, blockbuster after blockbuster. At least that's what the major film companies would like to see. A healthy alternative (independent cinema) has grown up alongside of the mainstream films Hollywood studios promote.

If you'd like to learn about film from the 1990's, take a look at this article. It'll walk you through anything you think you might have missed.

Here are a few clips. Watch as many as you'd like.

Alien (1979)
Batman (1989)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Ghost (1990)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
A League of Their Own (1992)
Malcolm X (1992)
The Crying Game (1992)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Philadelphia (1993)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Brave Heart (1995)
Toy Story (1995)
Armistad (1997)
Men in Black (1997)
Life is Beautiful (1998)
American Beauty (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Other films from this period can be found below under Blockbuster.

One special note: the movement Dogma '95 appears in 1995. This is an important milestone in film. Here's an excellent (and humorous) film about the rules Dogma '95 set out to use. Dogma 95.

From there information concerning your own lifetime (2000's) are typical style of the 1990's, although we are seeing more independent cinema. Info about 2000's. Look, here comes 3D again! Guess the film companies aren't doing so hot economically... Of particular note during the past decade is the threat from home entertainment (TiVo, Netflix, the internet, for example), the fall of the two towers in 2001 (9-11), and social networking (like Facebook...never heard of it) used to promote everything.

And finally, although the decade is far from over, a tribute to 2010's. Here's an article about your own pop culture in film. Take a look!

We are done with film studies. Next year we will look at more film, focusing on the world, as opposed to America. Have a great summer!

P.S. If you have a film project, please complete by Friday. Upload to You-tube and send me the link.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Course Reflection & Film Project

We have functionally come to the end of our course. Instead of a final exam where I would insist you remember dates and names, I'd like you to spend today in reflection of what you learned from this course.

To do that:
1. Go through your notes and the notes on this blog (back to January/February)
2. Answer ALL parts of this question:
  • Which aspects or decades in this film course did you learn the most about? 
  • What are the key ideas, inventions, and procedures for film making that you best recall and find valuable?
  • How has learning a bit about the history of film made you a better film viewer or artist?
  • Has this course been valuable to you as a creative writer? What have you learned about writing from this course?
  • Please include some constructive criticism of this class: what topics did you miss, what was a waste of time in your opinion, what did not hold your attention, what would you have liked to see more of?
  • What questions or confusions do you still have about film production and studies?
 Write up and turn in your reflection.

With time remaining in this class, please either spend your time watching the videos and clips you never watched in this class (including the blockbuster material from last class), and or work on your film project(s). 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Film Project

Please continue to work on your films. Today, start class by gathering with your group and finding out where you are on your project? Will you be able to complete filming this week? If not, how will you edit the film to meet the deadline of June 15? If this is not going to happen, your producer should come to speak with me. Consider me the CEO of a major motion picture production company.

Use the time in lab today productively. If you are not editing, preparing credits, directing, shooting, etc. please use the time in class to read about the Home Box Office Invasion, The Modern Blockbuster, and CGI and complete your homework (see below). You should view some of the clips posted below.

Instead of a test, I will be giving you a response assignment during Thursday's class.

HOMEWORK: Complete your film project. Read and answer the following: 1. For each article (3), choose one aspect of the topic that you did NOT know and found interesting. 2. For each article (3), come up with at least one branching question you might like to ask about the subject for that chapter. Turn your homework in next class.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Blockbuster

Please read the article on "The Home Video Invasion", "Blockbusters", and "CGI" to complete this course of study in film. After reading these short chapters, please post a comment to the forum.

Sony unveiled their VTR (video tape recorder) in 1967, but it wasn't until the 1970's that it took the world by storm. The early versions cost a prohibitive $1,000 to $4,000! That's about 8-10 I-phones and at least as many TiVos. Watching movies in your home again threatened the movie industry, but under the Betamax VCR (1975) viewers could watch pornography without feeling guilty about it (the internet had not yet established itself). As fall-out, the porn and "X" film production grew and later would help release a whole host of B-films which would not receive a wide release in cinemas.

Steven Spielberg (American New Wave director/Auteur) filmed his blockbuster Jaws in 1975. The success of the book and the film began to show the possibility of mass-produced entertainment and give film a legitimacy through popular culture. There were few film programs in colleges and schools at this time. You may recall Spielberg's other work (mostly blockbusters, like Jaws). After the Blockbuster phenomenon, film gained much attention (and money). Writers like Michael Crichton and Stephen King became quite wealthy as popular authors since so many people went to see the movies based on their books. Now, bestsellers almost always get made into films as a way to capitalize on profits (J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, for example). Stan Lee is also doing nicely recently.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
E.T. (1982)

George Lucas on the other hand created the single most influential film in the 1970's with his space opera (part IV) of the seminal Star Wars (1978). Both Jaws and Star Wars became the first two films to make more than $100 million, rocketing both directors into fame!

Star Wars (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the famous "melting face scene just for fun - SPOILER."

In 1982 the film Tron (1982) effectively used CGI for its special effects. Since then CGI has been married to the Hollywood Blockbuster.

Westworld (1973) (same author as Jurassic Park)
The Black Hole (1979)
Star Trek (1979) (VO by Orson Welles)

As you might note, CGI greatly improved the sci-fi genre.

Now, the goal of Hollywood remains to produce a blockbuster film. These are traditionally action-packed epics chock-ful of CGI and special effects. Many films also are mass produced so that even if the film fails at the box office, the production company can make back a loss by selling the music tracks, toys, or DVD's.

Recent blockbusters include:
Avatar (2009) $2,782,275,172 Billion
Titanic (1997) $2,185,246,990 Billion
The Avengers (2012) $552.7 Million (and counting)
The Dark Knight (2008) $533 Million
Spider Man (2002) $403.7 Million
E.T. (1982) $359.2 Million (see clip above)
Jurassic Park (1993) $357.1 Million
Forrest Gump (1994) $329.7 Million

Top 100 Box Office Blockbusters of All Time It pays to be a producer!

And for perspective, the top three films that flopped:

Cutthroat Island (1995) loss of $147 Million
The Alamo (2004)  loss of $146 Million (we lost the battle as well)
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) loss of $145 Million

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